Good News Bill - June 2012
29 May 2012
I am fascinated by the Mission to Seafarers building in Flinders St.
Have you ever been inside? It is an amazing place and is one of Docklands’ historic buildings. Many of you will have driven past this magnificent building.
Not many people know this, but the mission is open to the public. The Mission to Seafarers offers visiting seafarers a place where they can come and feel a warm welcome in a strange land. Many are Filipinos, Ukranians and Indian sailors who live a life of poverty.
The mission building is heritage-listed and they have to fund themselves with little government assistance. If the mission cannot raise sufficient money to undertake much-needed renovations, it is in danger of being moved on and the building sold to parties who can guarantee its preservation. I am amazed the many shipping companies whose sailors use this facility do not pay anything for the service offered to their crews.
If you come down any Friday lunch you will enjoy the best curry in town. A local restaurant sets up in the kitchen and prepares an authentic variety of curries. A generous serve will cost less than $15.
The mission has a well-stocked bar where you can purchase an accompanying beverage at a very reasonable price.
Whilst you are there, have a look around. Make sure you visit the chapel and the dome and find out what other attractions will be coming to the mission in the coming months. If you are feeling generous, leave a gold coin donation!
It is important that Melburnians support the mission. When you look at the numerous Docklands around the world, the success and charm of these locations come down to three things – the proximity to the water, the activity on the water and the historic charm of the buildings reflecting local history.
Docklands Melbourne has its harbour and proximity to water. But it is a work in progress and it is vitally important it does not lose all its character to modern development. There are a number of sheds that have been lovingly restored and which offer visitors a taste of the past. Platform 28, Places Victoria and the Fox Classic Car Museum in Batman’s Hill are all well-preserved examples of Docklands’ past. Central Pier, the Woolshed Pub, Va Bene and Alumbra are all located in carefully-preserved historic sheds.
Shed 2 and Shed 4 down the end of Victoria Harbour are still standing, for the moment. These are currently home to Open Channel and a number of boat building operations. Open Channel is a facility to train budding film-makers and provides low-cost venues for film sets and local events. The boat builders are a community-based hub that currently has a restoration program for the Alma Doepel and the Wooden Boat Centre is home to a boat builder who painstakingly repairs boats for local mariners.
These historic places are soon to be redeveloped. They are shortly to be replaced with residential buildings and a community centre with a library, swimming pool, rock-climbing wall and other community facilities. Under the current plan, the boating hub will be relocated to a permanent home in the new modern facilities. Open Channel is still looking for a new home – hopefully somewhere in Docklands. Effective January next year, these sheds will be gone forever.
As far as water activation in Melbourne Docklands is concerned, I am excited to learn of momentum to deliver a state-of-the-art, purpose-built ferry that will offer Melburnians a regular ferry service from Federation Square to Docklands. How long before this is a reality? What hurdles have to be overcome to bring this vital service alive?
I have seen the prototype, and it ticks all the boxes. It has been designed to carry bicycles and has wheel-chair access. It can moor at existing pontoons without the need to tie up. It has sitting and standing room and fits easily under the low bridges that span the Yarra and which prevent access by larger vessels. Consideration has also been given to keeping the wash to a minimum to have a low impact on other river users. This vessel is a leading-edge design and can be built here in Victoria. Watch this space!
The “Docklands Public Realm Plan” was released at the end of May. If you are interested to see what is planned for Docklands, you must read this. You can download it from the City of Melbourne’s website.
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